How can you mentally stimulate a blind dog? This is a question many pet parents concerned for their pooch’s health think about. We all know the importance of mental stimulation and environmental enrichment for dogs. But, is it possible to do so with a blind dog? Are there mental stimulation activities for blind dogs?
Yes, there are many ways of practicing mental stimulation for blind dogs. As a matter of fact, if your pooch has an impaired vision, mental stimulation is extremely important for them. It will help them keep active, healthy, and to enhance their other symptoms.
But how can you mentally stimulate a blind dog? Luckily, there are many tools and activities specifically designed for blind dogs. And today, we are going to share all of the mental stimulation toys and activities for blind dogs.
Mental stimulation activities for blind dogs
As mentioned before, there are both specific toys and activities for mentally stimulating blind dogs. First, we’ll share some easy playful activities you can practice with your blind dog.
1. Hide N’ Seek
Blind dogs cannot see properly, but they can definitely seek. This mental stimulation activity will help your dog find their way in your house and make a map inside their head of every obstacle and corridor.
We all know the drill, we all played hide n’ seek during our childhood, but how can you play hide n’ seek with your blind dog?
Well, first of all, you’ll need to hide. You don’t need to hide inside your closet as you did when you were a kid, just by going to a different room, other than where your dog expects you to be, counts as a perfect hiding spot.
Some dogs will run to find their parents as soon as they leave the room, but if your pooch doesn’t have this habit, you can use a command word to make them find you, such as “seek”.
You can also add an incentive your dog will perceive such as a treat. When you hide, just take a delicious treat with you so your pooch will look for it.
When your dog finds you, make sure to reward them either with praise and joy, or with one of their favorite treats. By doing so, you will be letting them know that what they did was good and they should do it again.
2. Tug of war
The good old tug of war. Who hasn’t played this game with their pooch? Tug of war is one of dogs’ favorite games of all time. And let me tell you it’s no different for blind pups.
The procedure is the same: you just have a rope or tug toy, give one end of it to your pooch, grab the other end yourself and start tugging.
This mental stimulation game will improve your dogs’ focus and physical strength. One tip you should keep in mind is to let your dog win from time to time. This will help them build their confidence, which is something extremely useful especially for bilnd dogs.
Training has many benefits for every dog, such as tightening your bond with them. But you might wonder how to train with your blind dog, since they can’t see you and what you are trying to show them. Well, when dogs go blind, their other senses are enhanced. You can use hearing and smell as effective training tools.
The method of clicker training is commonly used for blind dogs. This technique consists of using the clicker when your dog does something right, so they can associate the clicking sound with that specific training trick.
The clicker training method is usually accompanied by positive reinforcement. When your dog performs a good behavior, use the clicker so they associate that sound with that behavior and follow it with a healthy treat as a reward.
4. Taking a walk
Exploring the outside world is something almost every dog absolutely loves. They go nuts as soon as they hear the magic words “wanna go for a walk?”. And apart from being extremely fun for them, taking a walk has many benefits for dogs. It helps them take care of their mental and emotional health.
Exploring the outside world, smelling different scents and feeling different textures are all forms of mental stimulation that your blind pooch will benefit from.
Whether your dog was born blind or developed the condition later on, they can sometimes be afraid of the outside world. They can’t see what’s going on, so they get scared of sudden noises. If this is the case of your dog, you can take them on walks to quiet places during a time of the day you know the streets won’t be filled with people and cars.
Alternatively, you can start taking them to crowded places for short amounts of time so they slowly get used to it. It’s crucial to not over protect your dog, as this will limit them from strengthening their other senses, allowing them to learn to explore the world on their own.
Taking them to a nice and quiet park where you can let them explore off leash is another great mental stimulation activity to do with your dog. They will be able to explore their environment at their own pace.
But always remember to take baby-steps. Go to the park on a quiet time or take them on a walk to quiet streets if this is the first time they are going out after losing their sight. Your pup will be able to explore new and louder places as they gain more confidence.
It’s important to establish a command word with your dog that lets them know to stop walking or running immediately, such as “stop” or “careful”. You should use this word whenever your blind dog is about to hit themselves with an obstacle that they are unaware of. This will help them build confidence when walking by themselves and trust in you as their leader.
5. Playing fetch
Once again, this is one of dogs’ favorite games, and the good news is you can still play it if your pooch has an impaired vision. This game stimulates thinking, boosts their mood, strengthens your relationship, acts as an anxiety relief and will help them improve their other senses.
But how to play fetch with a blind dog? Well, that question takes us to the next section of this article: mental stimulation toys for blind dogs.
Mental stimulation toys for blind dogs
Their sight is not the only sense dogs use for playing. Their talented snouts can also help them engage in the best play sessions, and fortunately, there are specific toys that let them do so.
You can start by creating your own DIY scented toys for blind dogs. Just grab their favorite tennis ball and scent it with a strong smell your dog likes, such as one of their favorite foods, which could be cheese or chicken.
Some old t-shirts and socks can also make a great DIY scented toy for blind dogs. One scent that pooches really like is the one of their parents, so what better than to give them exactly what they want? You can just tie some old t-shirts togethers to create a ball you can use to play fetch with your dog.
If DIY projects are not your thing, there are really great options of scented toys for dogs you can buy online.
Squeaky toys are another great option for blind dogs, and are an amazing alternative for playing fetch! Many dogs are really attracted to toys that make a squeaky sound, and others are not, so don’t worry if your pooch is part of the latter group, it’s just not their thing.
If you are going to give a squeaky toy to your dog, make sure to use a good quality one. Otherwise, your pup may break it and swallow the squeaking device, which can be extremely harmful for them.
Environmental enrichment toys are a fundamental part of every dogs’ life. They offer a wide range of health benefits, you can learn more about them by reading this article.
And the good thing is that most of them are safe for blind dogs to use:
What is more, you can also create your own DIY enrichment toys for dogs. There are many easy and great ideas! Here you’ll find 12 of them.